I'm headed to Michigan this weekend for our annual 4th of July escape. Last year, we made a feast for a family reunion, and if something on a larger scale is on your agenda, I suggest you check out some of the recipes from that previous post. This year, our schedule is a lot less hectic, and although we'll be getting together with family while we're up there, I'm keenly interested in making some low-key foods that pair well with a chilled glass of wine and a sunset.
I always visit John Cross Fisheries on day one of our trip. I pick up some fresh whitefish and a few smoked fillets that they smoke in the tiny shed next to the dock. I can't help myself from buying enough to eat some straight from the bone, and some more to make some home-made smoked-fish spread.
I should mention that John Cross makes some amazing whitefish spread, but here are two versions to try at home. One is more of a smooth pate, while the other is a chunkier spread that is equally delicious on toast points or bagels the following morning.
You can use a variety of smoked fish in these recipes. Smoked mackerel is one of my particular favorites, but I'll never stray from whitefish when I'm up north. Both of these recipes are really simple to pull together and add an extra elegance to a pre-dinner nibble. We've been known to forget about dinner after a few glasses of wine, so don't forget to serve it with a nice dry white or rose.
Smoked-Fish and Horseradish Pate
Adapted 101 Simple Suppers by the BBC
8oz smoked fish fillets, such as whitefish or mackerel, skinned and boned
3 tbsp freshly grated horseradish (or freshly prepared from a jar)
4 oz ricotta cheese
juice of one lemon
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
2 tbsp melted butter
fresh bay leaves and pink or green peppercorns to garnish
cornichon pickles, pickled onions, and toast- rye or white, to serve
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients until smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
Spoon into a bowl and drizzle over the butter. You can refrigerate in order to allow the butter to harden or dig right in.
Garnish with bay leaves and peppercorns. Serve with cornichon pickles, pickled onions and toast.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
1 lb smoked fish such as trout, mackerel or whitefish fillets, skin and bones removed
1 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup cold water
Flake the fish and transfer 2 cups of it to a food processor. Reserve remaining fish. Blend with butter, shallot, dill, lemon juice, hot sauce and pepper until smooth.
With the motor running, add water to the trout puree in a slow stream until it's absorbed- about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the rest of the fish.
Pack the mixture into a 4 cup glass or ceramic mold or bowl. Cover the surface with wax paper and then tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for about 6 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Bring it back to room temperature to serve.
Serve with toast points or whole wheat crackers.